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Playlist: Grasshopper Manufacture's Akira Yamaoka

Posted by Jon Wahlgren

Our new feature series explores the musical tastes of notable video game creators and figures. Former Silent Hill composer Akira Yamaoka kicks things off by sharing some of his favorite songs, including a very special funeral request.

If you've ever played a Silent Hill game then you're familiar with Grasshopper Manufacture's Akira Yamaoka. As the former composer and sound designer for Konami's acclaimed horror series, Yamaoka has time and again demonstrated his ability to foster a haunting, sometimes tragic atmosphere and create some of gaming's greatest tunes.

You might already listen to and admire his work, but what music is the man himself keen on?

Nintendo Life asked Yamaoka to list five of his favorite songs and explain what it is about them that he finds so alluring. So, in his own words, allow him to guide you through, among others, off-scale pieces and his desert island pick.

D.A.F. – Der Mussolini (Original Version)

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This song has extremely simple sound, but I love the way this sense of supreme energy comes from the sound. If you give the song a strict analysis, you’ll notice that the bass synthesizer sound isn’t playing on a correct 12-scale. So the music isn’t technically "correct." However, while you may think that because of the vague musical scale your ears won’t be accustomed to the sound or that it’ll feel uncomfortable, it’s the complete opposite. This song is completely original in this sense.

Craig Armstrong – Amber

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I love all of Craig Armstrong’s work. His delicate sense of melody can be created by him alone. Anything unique has a meaning, and his songs have meaning as well. His music always evokes imagery. It’s not just music as music; it’s music that sketches another consciousness for the listener with the power of sound. That’s Craig Armstrong’s work.

Anne Dudley – Moments In Love

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Anne Dudley is known for her work sampling machine work with the 80s synth-pop group Art of Noise. Originally created while she was with Art of Noise, she later covered this song on her own solo album A Different Light. Her unshakable musical education background, entangled with her ambient sounds, gives her sound a mysterious temperament. Due to her skill with the piano, you can enjoy a tone that you’d be unable to hear anywhere else.

Visage – Moon Over Moscow

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If I was stranded on a desert island and you said “you can only take one song with you,” this would be the song I’d choose. The cornerstone of the sound is thanks to Ultravox, and the visual image of the group was coordinated by Steve Strange. A group with that strategic intent, was what attracted me to them, so to speak. They changed the concept of a bands, from playing music, to enchanting. They are also the ones who incorporated skills of art and design into their music. They invented the New Wave and New Romantic fashion. I learned a lot about creating my own artistic personality from them.

Ennio Morricone – Ecstasy Of Gold

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Please play this song at my funeral. Seriously, please make sure this song is played. Ennio Morricone brings a very simple, yet deep and melodic orchestration into existence without wasting a single note. The stout melody line, combined with the strings’ line, creates a tenacious sound that always thrusts somewhere in my heart. While there’s sorrow in the song, there’s also a certain resolve that offers the listener the strength to shake off that sadness. This makes it different from just a typical “tearjerker,” which is why I really enjoy it.

Nintendo Life would like to thank Yamaoka-san for his time and Grasshopper Manufacture Community Manager John Davis for coordinating and translating.

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User Comments (14)

SMEXIZELDAMAN

#1

SMEXIZELDAMAN said:

Ehh most of these songs are not really my style but I like one of them :)
Also the song he would like played at his funeral is nice :)

skywake

#3

skywake said:

I quite like the Anne Dudley track. Maybe not for putting on a mix tape but definitely video game or movie soundtrack material. Probably appropriate actually.
:)

Mqblank

#4

Mqblank said:

Visage - Moon Over Moscow sounds very Killer7 even though he didn't compose the music for that!

James

#5

James said:

Fascinating article and great, varied selections from Mr Yamaoka. Good stuff!

moosa

#7

moosa said:

I haven't listened to any of the tracks yet, and I'm already in love with this new feature. As a musician myself, this is the kind of thing I've always wanted to do. I'm really looking forward to more of this!

Elvis444

#10

Elvis444 said:

Is Amber a person, a color, or a solid form of tree sap? I'm not gonna be able to sleep tonight... Too many unanswered questions!

JGMR

#13

JGMR said:

Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaft (DAF), that's oldskool! Nice selection and taste.

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